Owl Suit

 Posted by at 9:25 am  Anti-Gravity Surgery, OVER and BEYOND  Comments Off
Oct 312013
Max Owl101 (Small)

Click. Ready.
Snug in the feather down you rise into the night sky,
Owl eyes searching the foggy banks below.

Somewhere out there Mr Fox is sleeping,
Somewhere out there,
Sleeping off the rich feast which he came across last Sunday,
Hunger put off for a time:
Travels in a Middle land
Wolves, Dreams, Transformations

Having eaten enough for two, Mr Fox lies sprawled out, his head thrown back. Mouth open his upper lip curls as if snarling in anger, exposing the white teeth in which decaying scraps of food can still be seen. The angel of putrefaction leads, stomach rising and falling, floating in time with the breath.

So it is the desert you are sunning (it begins):

You ask the star twins
Hellbranden and Herzwolf for directions. 
South heading
Dolphins glide by, the waves sweeping over.

Kobalt blauen Augen (cobalt blue eyes),
Soft skinned and alive,
Open wide, Flaschenpost,
Love, like a message in a bottle.

Somewhere out there I am waiting to be found.

Oct 272013



Hunger is all there is, the open devouring mouth of hunger, incessant, never ending hunger, demon mouth, the mouth from hell. Snake swimming, snake in boat, had it fallen from the distracted grip of an angel? Falling, perhaps a necessary humiliation, is, of course, prior to working out how to stand up again, to regain stature and momentum, in order to maintain an air of purpose in tune with current preoccupations and contemporary ideologies that in turn help towards us feeling “on the right track”. I noticed in a shop window a sign reading “nearing the end of life”; suggesting that the right track may not be very long. It goes to show that we have to make arrangements as best we can. If that includes buying a wicker coffin, and a sad procession (or joyful) out to a recently established and nearby woodland burial site, so be it. End of life dynamics, doing it right. Do I demand it or simply invite it. Caught between shy timidity and murderous rage. There was plenty of rage on view in Channel 4′s news yesterday evening when there was a debate about the wearing or not of the niqab. It made quite a strange spectacle to see these enraged women, quivering but faces remaining hidden behind their veils. Also strange to hear their defence of the wearing of the niqab based on the (what seems to me a rather non-Islamic) argument based on the rights of the individual. My thinking might be way off but the resistance to rampant individualistic consumerism that I see embodied in Islamic thought is based on an appreciation of society, in some sense putting the individual second. Some young women claimed that they felt empowered behind their veils. This seems a bad argument, one might claim the same thing for alcohol or drugs or going about in a gang.

When (or if)I am reduced (perhaps nearing the end of life) to hobbling on one leg, dragging the other behind me, taking an age to cross the road in front of some fuming driver who no doubt wishes to hasten these last few yards of my right track to the coffin, grimacing at the sympathetic smiles of the few kindly souls who can bear to watch my hesitant progress, the thing is I shall have to demand an exclusive walking stick. An object of quality and beauty. A last attempt to get things right. Right for the final yards of the the right track. As Geoffrey Hill writes: ‘So what is faith if it is not/inescapable endurance?’ (Page 192) See! I’m on the right track. Marvellous, isn’t it! Or at least grin and bear it?

How Can I Cope

 Posted by at 8:07 pm  Catastrophe Games, OUT in the WILDERNESS  Comments Off
Oct 222013

It’s a covering, a cloak, or perhaps just a towel. Or a cappa ‘cape’, or pluviale ‘rain coat’ (if you prefer in latin). But whatever name we give it, it is still only a covering. Like skin. Or the hull of a boat. Cope.

Any kind of covering will do, to throw over us when we need a howl, and for protection; from the weather, from the wet, from everything outside and whatever may be alive and kicking there. Whatever outside that is strange and different. The scary. But I can cope with scary on the fear/excitement boundary if the covering holds. If it doesn’t leak. If it is impermeable. If it is only imagination.

Except in the real world it does leak. In fact, these last sixty years it has been leaking all the time. This is the realm of fear.

Mr Fox was on holiday. On a sunny and warm morning he looked down into the calm sea waters over the side of the boat. Together with his friend Harry Otter and wife and daughter, the four of them watched the plentiful shoals of fish slowly moving under the water. The fish suddenly scattered as a single long predator darted in among them.

“Time to go”, said Harry Otter.

Mr Fox turned away to help with the preparations to leave. “I’ll do the anchor”, he said.

“Look there’s a snake”, Harry Otter’s daughter suddenly shouted.

Mr Fox and Harry Otter turned back to look. A small thin adder was swimming on the smooth surface of the sea, its slim head raised out of the water. Later Mr Fox considered his several alternative explanations how it got to be there. Perhaps it fell from the mouth of a large bird of prey. He had seen one gliding besides the surrounding cliffs and in and out of a pine wooded area. Perhaps the bird had its nest there and the adder was a lost meal for its young.

The snake disappeared under the hull of the boat. A few minutes later the anchor was raised and all was ready for their departure. Then a sharp cry came from down below.

“The snake is in the boat”, Harry Otter’s wife screamed.

As equally improbable Mr Fox thought later was the fact that Mrs Otter had found it. By all rights the snake shouldn’t have been there of course. How could there be a hole in a boat he thought – however small the snake was, it made no sense for it to have been there. However it came to be there in the boat – unless it leaked, past believing – it made even less sense that it had been discovered Mr Fox thought. It should have gone into immediate hiding beneath the decking. To emerge at night, and slide between the covers where each of us slept. Or lie in a coil waiting to be trodden on in the dark.

Later they watched the sun set, and then the full moon cross the night sky, and the sun rise on the next day into a cloudless sky.

Fear arises, to harm or to heal, whichever way the augury turns.

Do you see that fire-breathing dragon

 Posted by at 3:06 pm  Atelier  Comments Off
Oct 182013


Fear must have its uses as we are trapped here, in this skin, in this cage, in this dark alley.

Time passes, the plot thickens along with the fog – a real pea-souper – slightly thinner than mushy peas I suppose but all the same it is avowedly pea soup based on a ham stock made from that bone – let’s call it a thigh bone. From which all the ham has been gnawed. By whom you ask. Well not me.

By rats at least that’s how it looked to me and while we are on the subject when you say thigh bone, do you mean human thigh?

Who cares! Fear has its uses.

Uses? Well . . . Panic . . . Paralysis . . . Flight, fight . . . But of course on this occasion we are trapped here because the enemy are too powerful – whoever they are, we don’t know, we can’t even guess, we just know that they are an evil bunch who wish us a bad end – and they are fast. Young and fast.

Whereas, well what shall I say, the years have passed, slipping away towards those blue remembered hills. And, to say the least, we are somewhat slower than we used to be.

But like the man says, fear drops away, drops away into indifference perhaps. Who gives a damn? It’s of no consequence.

Though even as I put that into words, it begins to shift again. I care. I care whether I live or die.

I care how I die even if I have little control over the when or the how.

Selfhood has a certain rickety sounding construction as though the letter of doom is already in the post. Washed away in the flood. Painstakingly reconstructed with whatever materials are to hand. Sticks and mud. Bits of plastic extrusions. Metal if we can find it, though the competition is tough from the scowling faces of those crowded near the top of the pile. Especially aluminium, favoured for its lightness and strength. Some coils of copper wire and old batteries reconstituted for their new use.

Good as new, mate. Fear and pain and business as usual.

I will paint myself with lichen, drape myself with extravagant purple and joyfully skip these last thousands of miles. There’s a long way to go, much to do and not a sod out there who can tell me how long we have.

But apparently we must be in good voice because the word comes down the line that we have to sing; like it’s some stupendous opera and I have some small walk-on role to perform though, of course they are not telling me what it is exactly. Don’t worry, have no fear, it will all become clear round the next bend in the road. No expense will be spared there will be water spouts and fire-breathing dragons, snakes in our beds and a chorus of angels. And no doubt trumpets will announce the new dawn.

Searing Abundance

 Posted by at 8:34 am  Anti-Gravity Surgery, OVER and BEYOND  Comments Off
Oct 102013

“We can’t go on like this!” the old man said raising his horn of plenty. Or did he say it in the first person? Or was it impersonal, “It can’t go on like this!”?

The world is hotting up. No question about it, and it is not just climate change, it’s everything. Faster, swifter and more urgent conversations. And love too, more of it everywhere. Abundant, searing life.


Before he left Mr Fox took one last walk in the olive grove on the other side of the Bay of Naples from the city, where he and his Mrs had been staying last month. It was as if branches and fruits were sprouting from out of his head.


Naples, Nil Square

 Posted by at 2:50 pm  Echo Effects, Holy Fool/Hero, ON the STREET  Comments Off
Oct 022013

It is Italy, but not as we know it. Out of time and space, we’ve been some days in the city that was previously called “Nilsense” by its founders who came from Alexandria and settled here.

The story is of a credit card lost somewhere on the way to the centre of Naples, while strolling on a Sunday morning among the crowds. Theft in Naples – Nothing new about that, you think, it goes with familiar descriptions of the city; a reputation for more than its fair share of vagabonds, thieves and robbers. And it is true, the city is outlaw, anything can happen here, and it often does.

Mercurius – the quick loss, and with it the feeling of an equal loss of all reasons to have faith in the “good faith” of others. It was Sunday morning and we had been to the Chapel of San Severo. The world famous Chapel is known for its extraordinary baroque works carved in white marble, but it is not Enlightenment sculpture as we know it. The central body of Christ appears to continue to wrestle with death under a pure gossamer thin shroud.

The Christ sculpture is surrounded by other figures of a strange new wisdom. I stopped for a time before a lifesize figure of a naked man wrestling to emerge from – or is it to disappear under? – a thickly corded fishing net. A youthful naked angel holds the net’s edge, and I was unable to tell whether his purpose is it to pull back or to cover the naked man more completely. The creation is called Disignano -’disillusion’ (carved by Francesco Querilo, 1753-54) – and at the same time fills the viewer with curious illicit desires. It is no wonder the works of the Chapel’s creator Prince Raimondo di Sangro (1710-71) were called ‘a sink of all heresies’ by the 18th Century church, and he a sorcerer. I bought two postcards of this ambiguous work on the way out, but am unsure if I will ever send them, or to whom.

DCIM100MEDIAIt now feels close to, but not yet quite at the Axis Mundi, and after leaving the Chapel we made our way towards the Piazzetta Nilo (Nil Square), dawdling at several shops selling strange artefacts, and then stopping at the time-worn ancient monument, said to be more than 2000 years old and which the city’s founding colony erected as a homage to the River Nile.

We stop and stare up at the nearly naked bearded old man, wrinkled and ravaged by time, who is lying on a rock with a horn of plenty in his right hand. A broken sphinx supports his upper body, and his feet rest on the body of a crocodile, although both the heads of the sphinx and crocodile are now missing.

Having arrived at this “Nilsense” centre – afterwards the worst is the attempt to telephone the Bank and report the credit card lost or stolen. The conversation with the 24 Hour Call Centre seems to go on for ever and at the end finishes in disillusion, thwarted by the apparent parallel loss of our online identity to the Bank. There is no record of who we are, and so nothing can be done to cancel the card.

Disignano – our fear-filled imaginations are filled with pictures of a cornucopia of spending now taking place, a terrifying unstoppable wave spreading out from the crocodiled feet of the old man in Nil Square.

It is only one hour later, when we receive an email from our B&B owner. Have we lost a credit card, she asks. Somebody has found one near to a bus stop, and taped it to the outside window of a local B&B. It is a different residence to the one we are staying at, and its owner seems to have telephoned round other local places to ask if anyone with our name is staying. Later on the card is given to our B&B housekeeper who walks over to collect it, and it is returned to us at the end of another stunning weekend in Naples.

Piazzetta Nilo – showing us how happiness is lost and found in “Nilsense”. Meanwhile, back in the rest of Europe the same weekend I read that Mark Rutte, the Liberal Prime Minister of Holland has announced his new centre-right government’s intention to aboliish the welfare state. ‘The classical welfare state is slowly evolving into a “Participatory Society”, he states in the speech from the throne, ‘one, that is, where citizens will be expected to take care of themselves or create civil-society solutions for problems such as pensions, or welfare’.

The Dutch Socialist party leader Emile Roemer had the following reaction to this announcement, ‘This isn’t going to make anybody happier’, he says.